After Sears filed for bankruptcy (and likely its ultimate demise) last month, a part of my childhood died with it.
Long before I was born, Sears served as America’s first Amazon, allowing the entire country (especially rural parts of it) to mail order just about anything from a fat catalog. They didn’t offer two day shipping, but they delivered at a time when no one else did. Continue reading…
Taken at one of my local skate shops (Photo: Blake Snow)
Outside of groceries, my household shops online 90% of the time. That’s not me overstating something. That’s my wife’s estimate. She does the budget.
Over the last 10 years, Amazon Prime, Zappos, Target.com, iTunes, Netflix, and many other e-tailers have dramatically improved my family’s standard of living, product selection, and buying power, while reducing buyer’s remorse, time spent, and money spent consuming wants and needs.
Every now and again, I get romantic and decide to “shop local,” as they say. Usually I regret it. The last time I needed a pair of slacks, I went to a big box store. The style selection wasn’t what I wanted. 30 minutes of my life, gone.
Before leaving the parking lot, I launched the Amazon app, found a better pair of 4.5/5 star fitted-pants for less, and clicked “buy now.” The transaction took two minutes. The slacks would be on my door step two days later, and if, for whatever reason, I didn’t like them, I could put them back on my door mat, and a brown truck would magically return them for free.
We live a charmed life. Continue reading…
This is good, embedded journalism about “the everything store” from which my family buys a sizable portion of merchandise:
There have always been rubbish jobs. Ian Brinkley, the director of the Work Foundation, calls Amazon’s employment practices “old wine in new bottles”. Restaurants and kebab shops have done the same sort of thing for years. But Amazon is not a kebab shop. It’s the future. Which may or may not be something to think about as you click “add to basket”.
I’ll think about it, but I’ll still click. I can honestly say Amazon has improved my life over the last decade. Whatever long-term cost I may end up paying for the cut-rate convenience is too murky to fear. At least right now.
See also: Amazon looks to the future
Amazon has been my favorite store (and website) for nearly a decade.
As I’ve said many times before, they are the greatest store known to man. They have saved me thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time spent shopping. They do unto customers as they would do unto themselves. They are my movie store. My book store. My music store that auto syncs with iTunes. They are a treasure trove of user data, helping me reach for products that are consumer approved and well rated so I get burned less often. They ship free and often return free.
Plus it’s just fun getting brown cardboard boxes wrapped up in shipping tape. Heck, their boxes even have a smile on them. For that, I unabashedly love Amazon.
And then they go and do something like this, as if I needed any more reason to shout my love for them from the rooftops with free word of mouth advertising: Continue reading…
Media often paints the shuttering of retail stores in a negative light, as if said stores are not being replaced and restaffed by online stores and digital goods (which many are) or creating entirely new workforces (which many are, too).
Economic impact aside, however, the shuttering of brick and mortar stores has actually improved my family’s life. Let me count the ways:
I make smarter purchases now. Before the internet, I was overcharged and burned more often than I am now. Not only does the internet liberate pricing information, it makes it easier to compare and you can check product reliability and functionality before buying. Consequently, when used properly, you can save a lot of money and purchase much better products, especially with the help of consumer ratings. In that sense, I don’t miss shuttering brick and mortar stores at all.
Better convenient stores. If there’s one thing online stores will never fully replace, it’s convient and grocery stores. And as I’m sure you’ve noticed, you can get a whole lot more than groceries there now, thanks to the consolidating and shuttering of other retail stories. In addition to food, I bank at, buy stamps at, rent Red Box movies from, buy Christmas trees from, buy flowers from, and buy concert tickets from my nearby grocers. They’re my favorite stores behind Amazon and Walmart, and I suspect they’ll get a whole lot better as stores continue to consolidate and move online.
That said, there is a price we pay in closing so many retail stores. Our communities, social interactions, and face time will inevitably take a hit. That’s the most legitimate challenge I think we’ll face as stores continue to consolidate and evolve.
But overall, my consumer life is better thanks to online shopping. So is my posterity’s lives. And so are the remaining offline stores that have gotten stronger and better, too. So other than the above, I really don’t see any direct downsides. Do you?
An Amazon warehouse(s). It really is the greatest store known to man. The only thing I don’t buy from them — at least not yet — is groceries, a car, or a house.
“There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp.”—Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of the Seattle-based Amazon.com, now going on seven consecutive years as my favorite website.
Bonus points to Russ for saying “scuzzed out.” And I love how tiny his head looks when he walks onto the street in new looks.
An Amazon.com warehouse. Storefront of course being their awesome website. Via The Big Picture.
While considering a TV upgrade, Lindsey and I were price checking a nearby retailer yesterday. Thankfully for us, the outfit was showing a kids movie, so parents could shop around.
Lindsey and I didn’t wait to take advantage. After a few minutes, I glanced towards the girls to find my four year-old looking the opposite direction, peeking through tiny fingers, and squirming in her skin as she watched a sci-fi movie on a different TV. I then rushed over to rescue her from the gnarly Alien surgery taking place on screen.
She was pretty upset. And I’m sad to say I didn’t notice the movie beforehand. (Was neck deep in materialism—not parenting— at the time, okay?) She cried when we got home. Her mother wisely recommended prayer. I offered. It helped.
This morning, it was Sadie’s turn to pray. “Please help me forget scary movies,” she supplicated.
Cutest. Prayer. Ever.